Young Adult Novels by Norma Howe
Author of Novels and Stories for Young Adults

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God, the Universe, and Hot Fudge Sundaes
Houghton Mifflin Company
God, the Universe, and Hot Fudge Sundaes (paperback)
Avon Flare

About the CBS-TV Schoolbreak Special

The Emmy Award-winning television version first aired on 1 April, 1986, and was rerun on 2 June, 1987. It starred Roxana Zal, Millie Perkins, Jim Haynie and Melanie Gaffin, with Beau Dremann, Amy Resnick, David Greenlee, and featured Jere Burns as Brother Vinnie. Executive producer, Cynthia A. Cherbak. Produced and directed by Leslie Hill. Music by James De Pasquale. Director of photography, Robert Eberlein. Edited by Pamela Scott Arnold. Written for television by Cynthia A. Cherbak.

Book Description:

When Alfie hears about the upcoming trial between the evolutionists and the creationists and their fight to decide which theory of the earth's origin will be taught in the public schools, her first thought is that it will make an interesting topic for a school project. She doesn't expect it to be a replay of the growing tensions at home between her cynical father and her born-again mother as the family faces the approaching death of Alfie's little sister. And Alfie certainly isn't expecting to find romance at the trial. But when she meets handsome Kurt, there to cheer on the evolutionists, he not only captures Alfie's heart, he forces her to take a rational look at her own religious convictions. Before she knows it, Alfie finds herself torn between two opposing camps. Deep down, she suspects that faith alone does not equal truth, but she still can't help feeling that if she believes hard enough, she can save Francie's life.

In the worst week of her life, the week her little sister dies, Alfie struggles to find something to believe in. In this moving and witty novel, Norma Howe sensitively explores the plight of a young girl caught between irreconcilable extremes and forced to choose her own way.

Long intrigued by religious issues, Norma Howe knew that she wanted to write about the conflict between faith and reason in a young person. After she attended the "creation trial" in Sacramento, California in March 1981, the idea for this story took shape. In her own words: "I think it was Robert G. Ingersoll who said it takes real courage to choose truth over comfort. I'm interested in people who have that kind of courage--and in those who don't-- and I wanted to write about them."

It all came crashing down at once. In just one week, Alfie lived through the most terrible time of her entire sixteen--almost seventeen--years. And somehow, while her whole world was falling apart, Alfie managed to fall in love.

She might easily have fallen for someone who would soothe away all the hurt with gentle words and soft caresses. Instead, Alfie fell totally and passionately in love--over a hot fudge sundae and some pretty heavy conversation. Not exactly the moonlight and roses every girl dreams of, but then Alfie wasn't the average girl. At sixteen--almost seventeen--Alfie had experienced some pretty adult problems. And when she fell in love, it wasn't just kid's stuff. But it did turn out to be a kind of revelation about life and love--and how you can survive them both.

Excerpts from Reviews

English Journal - December, 1985
Chosen as "One of the Most Outstanding Books of the Year" by the University of Iowa Books for Young Adults Program.

Booklist - April 15, 1984
A promising first novel sure to have YA appeal, especially to those going through their own religious questioning.

Best Sellers - June, 1984
Norma Howe handles (the) hopes and fears and the regular ins and outs of adolescent life skillfully and with a sense of humor. Alfie, her parents, and friends come to life and have a certain depth of character not commonly found in juvenile literature.

Horn Book - June, 1984
Despite the serious theme, there is much humor in the dialogue and in Alfie's relations with her friends. Alfie herself is a thoughtful, intelligent heroine with a contemporary problem.

The Sacramento Union - June 10, 1984
Parents with religious convictions may object to the book because of its bias toward the scientific viewpoint. It is a thought-provoking book, however.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July/August, 1984 impressive first novel that has strong characterization, a smooth writing style, and a universal theme: the individual's concept of faith and commitment. Her father is a cheerful cynic, her mother a devout born-again Christian, and Alfie chooses her own path with courage and a growing conviction.

The Sacramento Bee - July 31, 1984
This is an excellent book for teens and not bad for mom and dad, too. It's not a heavy-handed message book; it's a look at real people confronting life.

The San Francisco Chronicle - August 5, 1984
...the author gives her characters depth and feeling, avoids easy judgments and delves honestly with a theme of relevance to many young people.

Children's Book Review Service, Inc. - August, 1984
...a witty, honest, well-written story about faith and reason.

School Library Journal - August, 1984
...a thought-provoking novel that should appeal to YA's.

Voice of Youth Advocate - October, 1984
The controversial nature of this book make it excellent for booktalks and discussions. A good addition to any collection...